Last Updated: November 1, 2016
Everyone who attends college dreams of achieving the elusive career trifecta: job satisfaction, good pay, and healthy demand for services. But not all career paths have the capability to deliver the goods like an online Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. From child wellness programs to disaster relief and disease prevention, public health workers are on the frontlines of community health initiatives—and with the ability to make such a huge impact on individuals and communities, it’s probably not surprising that public health jobs often boast high rates of job satisfaction.1
While we hear a lot about the massive changes taking place in US healthcare, one thing is certain: there will be no lack of jobs in public health. If you have a bent for cold, hard facts, you might want to check out the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has reported that Medical and Health Services occupations are expected to have the fastest employment growth (17%) and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024.2 To bolster those impressive numbers further, the federal government has called for an increase in public health experts across the United States as part of its Healthy 2020 initiative.3
So how do you pursue a career in Public Health? There are a variety of routes, but most involve higher education, and a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health is a great place to start. But if going to school in a traditional, campus setting is not an option for you, there’s no need to despair. It is now possible to get an affordable, first-rate education by way of an online program from an accredited institution. By doing so, you will be joining millions of students who, many experts say, are getting an equally high-quality education as one pursued in person.4
What are the best online bachelor’s degrees in public health?
But while many schools offer a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health, not as many offer these programs online. So, we at College Choice have done the legwork of searching out these programs and ranking them for you in an easy-to-digest manner. We have ensured that all the schools on our list are regionally accredited, and some have further accreditation or credentials from two Public Health agencies:
- The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
- The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC – Graduates from these programs can take the CHEC exam – a huge bonus.)
This ranking also takes into account the reputation of the institution (as ranked by US News and World Report) as well as tuition cost (garnered from program websites) and the expected earnings of a student upon graduation (as reported by PayScale.com). We hope this list will help you find the program that is a good fit for you.
American Public University System
College Choice Score: 100
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $270.00
American Public University and American Military University are part of the American Public University System – a regionally accredited (HLC), for-profit system catering particularly to (but not affiliated with) the American Military. It may seem strange to have a for-profit university ranked so highly on our list, but the American Public University System has been making great strides in the reputability of their programs. In fact, their online Bachelor’s programs ranked in the top 100 nationally in US News and World Report’s 2016 ranking.
The American Public University system offers a cheap online Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree which provides a professionally-focused understanding of public health in America and abroad. The program is intended for professionals seeking entry or advancement in the public health field. Course topics include:
- Public healthcare administration
- The U.S. healthcare system
- Quarantine theory, history, and contemporary issues
- Epidemiology, biology, and chemistry
- Emergency and disaster management
This broad-based online degree provides the foundation needed for a career as a community health worker or educator, dietitian, nutritionist, health services manager, or occupational health and safety technician. The school offers cheap tuition for all online courses, with further discounts for members of the US Military and their families.
California Baptist University
College Choice Score: 96.33
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $547.00
You may not have heard of California Baptist University – a private, Christian, liberal arts university located in Riverside, California – but if you are thinking of pursuing an accredited, online Bachelor’s degree in Public Health, you might want to take a look at their program. The regionally accredited school has ranked highly in several categories nationally, but most relevant to this ranking, among the top 50 online Bachelor’s programs in the US (US News and World Report).
California Baptist University offers an affordable online Bachelors of Science in Public Health degree which prepares candidates to advance professionally as effective, innovative and ethical health care leaders. The online curriculum, which is taught by highly experienced faculty, focuses on the core disciplines of public health practice and includes:
- Behavioral science
- Environmental and occupational health
- Curriculum design in health education
Students in this affordable online Public Health degree program benefit from private school quality education at public school tuition rates. Additionally, graduates are eligible to sit for the nationally recognized credentialing examination in health education–Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.
University of Missouri
College Choice Score: 84.05
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $354.00
Located in Columbia, MO, the University of Missouri (colloquially known as Mizzou) was the first public university established west of the Mississippi. The school, which is regionally accredited (HLC), is now also a member institution of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The school has a robust online presence, with over 95 degree and certificate options, and their online bachelor’s programs have earned particular acclaim.
Based out of the School of Health Professions, the University of Missouri offers a cheap online Bachelor’s in Health Sciences which is geared toward students interested in non-clinical occupations in the health-care field, including public health. The program also prepares students for public health graduate or professional programs after graduation. This affordable online program is interdisciplinary in nature and includes courses on:
- Public Health Principles & Practice
- Clinical Ethics
- Healthcare Leadership & Organization
It is important to note that this is a completion degree, and students entering the program should have completed all general education requirements either at MU or elsewhere. One of the strengths of this program is the mandatory internship that students complete during their junior or senior year. The internship is flexible, and students may complete an internship or service learning project, a study abroad program, or work in a health-related field.
College Choice Score: 83.89
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $371.00
Kaplan University has a bit of a checkered history as a for-profit university, but in recent years the school’s online programs have been garnering respect, with programs listed in prestigious rankings such as the US News and World Report (including their online nursing program). The school is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has been offering online programs since 2000.
Kaplan University offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a major in Public Health which prepares students to be innovative providers of healthcare. Highly trained faculty guide students through the practice of public health, focusing on real-world public health issues through case study analysis. In addition to core courses, the program offers several concentrations, including:
- Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Environmental Health
This cheap online program includes a wide variety of instructional methods, such as interactive seminars, online quizzes, discussion boards and Web-based field trips. To make courses as accessible as possible, Kaplan offers a variety of start-dates for their online courses. Kaplan University also offers tuition discounts to service members and their families.
Northern Arizona University
College Choice Score: 81.75
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $387.00
Northern Arizona University, situated in Flagstaff, Arizona, has been a leader in online learning since it began providing online Bachelors degree programs in 1998 – programs which are now ranked among the top in the nation. The school, which is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, was the first public university to offer a competency-based online degree program that allows students to earn credit for experience.
Northern Arizona University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences: Public Health degree that gives students a broad knowledge of the Public Health field, preparing them for multiple health-related jobs or graduate studies programs. Students may transfer up to 62 credits into the program which combines a liberal arts education with specific Health Sciences and Public Health content. Courses offered include:
- Healthy Lifestyles
- Foundations of Public Health
- Human Diseases
- Prevention Concepts for Risky Health Behaviors
This affordable online Public Health degree is intentionally flexible for working students and provides accommodation for students with work experience in the field. Students also benefit from a mandatory internship experience in a professional community health-promotion setting which adds depth to the knowledge and skills students gain through coursework.
Brigham Young University - Idaho
College Choice Score: 81.70
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $320.00
Ranked as one of the top ten Western Regional Universities (US News and World Report), Brigham Young University – Idaho is a private university located in Rexburg, Idaho. The school is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the vast majority of its students are members of the LDS church, though admission is open to non-members as well.
Brigham Young – Idaho offers an affordable online BS in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Education and Promotion. Importantly, this is one of only four online Bachelor in Public Health programs which prepares students to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination offered through the National Committee on Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). Those who complete the degree will be able to pursue a career in a variety of Public Health positions, including:
- Research Coordinator
- International Health Specialist
- Environmental Health Specialist
The program prepares students to plan, implement and assess Health Education, as well as administer and manage research related to Health Education. The flexible online format allows students to work at their own pace and allows for frequent interaction between students and instructors.
Youngstown State University
College Choice Score: 81.33
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $280.00
Taking a creative, integrated approach to education, scholarship, and service, Youngstown State University is a public university located in Youngstown, Ohio. The school was founded in 1908, and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Bitonte College of Health and Human Services at Youngstown State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Sciences (BSAS) with a major in Public Health which provides mastery at the bachelor’s level of the nationally recognized Public Health Core Competencies. The online degree in Public Health addresses each of the five standard areas in public health training. These are:
- Health Services
- Environmental Health
In addition to benefiting from Youngstown University’s cheap online tuition rate (one of the lowest on this list), students who complete the online Bachelor’s in Public Health at National University will be eligible to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination offered through the National Committee on Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). All students in the Public Health program take part in an internship tailored to their area of public health interests.
College Choice Score: 80.65
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $362.00
Founded in 1971 with a focus on adult learners, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. Situated in La Jolla, California, the school is regionally accredited (WASC) and provides graduate and undergraduate degrees for a diverse student population both on campus or online. The school has been offering online undergraduate degrees since 1999.
National University provides an ecological perspective of public health through their online Bachelor of Science in Public Health. This broad-based program provides both a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as an understanding of the contributions of core public health disciplines to the nation’s health. On graduation, students will be prepared to begin careers in a variety of health agencies. Courses for the Public Health major include:
- The Ecology of Public Health
- Introduction to Epidemiology
- Health Behavior
- Environmental Health
- Global Health Promotion
In addition to benefiting from National University’s affordable online tuition rate, students who complete the online Bachelor’s in Public Health at National University will be eligible to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination offered through the National Committee on Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC).
College Choice Score: 77.63
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $565.00
Founded in 1933, Monroe College is a for-profit, regionally accredited (MSCHE) institution headquartered in New York City. The school focuses on providing career-oriented education and has been providing online courses since 1998. Recently, those online programs have been garnering national attention: in 2016, US News and World Report ranked the school’s online Bachelor program as being among the best in the nation.
Monroe College offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Public Health which emphasizes education, injury prevention, disease prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles. The faculty who teach in Monroe’s online Public Health program are public health professionals with experience in a wide range of public health areas and will give students the skills and knowledge needed to:
- collect and analyze data
- identify community needs
- plan, implement, monitor and evaluate programs that encourage healthy lifestyles
This affordable, online program employs project-based learning which translates public health theory into on-the-ground practice. Students in Monroe College’s online programs also benefit from a broad range of student support services, including a Student Services Counselor who is charged with helping guide students’ studies, assisting with tutoring and encouraging their progress.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 75.70
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $320.00
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, regionally accredited (NEASC), non-profit university which has been a leader in adult education nationally. The school, which was founded in 1932, provides students with three different ways to access their programs: at their traditional campus in Hookset, New Hampshire, at one of their five regional centers, or through one of their accredited online programs.
The online Bachelor of Science in Public Health that Southern New Hampshire University offers is based on the curriculum standards of the Council on Education for Public Health and will prepare students to advance or pursue a career in the growing field of public health. This affordable online program provides a strong foundation in the biological and social sciences, giving students expertise in:
- preventing disease
- prolonging life
- improving the health of a broad spectrum of populations
Students who complete the online program will be ready for a career as a medical and health services manager, health educator or community health worker. In addition, students at Southern New Hampshire University enjoy one of the lowest tuition rates in the nation. The school is committed to providing both quality instruction and affordable tuition, as evidenced by their comparatively cheap $320/ credit.
University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 75.12
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $490.00
Located in Tucson, Arizona, the University of Arizona is a regionally accredited (HLC), public research university which enrolls over 42,000 students.The school, which has ranked highly as one of the top public schools in the nation, has invested in high quality, interactive online courses and programs that serve the needs of their students.
The Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health is one of a select number of Schools of Public Health which have obtained accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health, ensuring that programs have met high standards of quality. The school offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a major in Public Health which helps students attain their health professional aspirations. The program takes a proactive, population-based approach to many public health topics, including:
- Health promotion
- Disease prevention
- Health disparities
- Community education
Students who pursue this affordable online B.S. with a major in public health typically enter the degree having the majority of their general education and prerequisite coursework completed, allowing them to finish the degree in as little as two academic years.
University of North Carolina Greensboro
College Choice Score: 74.19
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $308.00
Originally established 1891, the University of North Carolina – Greensboro is a regionally accredited (SACS), public, liberal arts university located (as its name suggests) in Greensboro, North Carolina. UNC Greensboro has ranked as one of the top public schools in the nation, and has an extensive list of online programs which combine the quality of on-campus instruction with the affordability of online learning.
The Department of Public Health at the University of North Carolina Greensboro offers a very affordable online Bachelor’s in Public Health which features a focus on prevention. This online program attends to the development of individual, group, institutional, community, and policy strategies to improve health and teaches students to:
- Analyze major public health trends and issues impacting populations and communities
- Compare and contrast population-based approaches to addressing the health needs
- Analyze and interpret public health data
Potential students should note that the Health Studies online degree program is a completion degree available to students who hold an A.A., A.S., B.A., or B.S. degree, have a cumulative GPA of 2.5, and have completed the public health related courses.
University of South Dakota
College Choice Score: 73.42
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $333.35
Founded in 1862, the University of South Dakota is the oldest university in the state, and one of a growing list of rurally-based schools that are extending their reach through online academic programs. Located in Vermillion, South Dakota, this public university is regionally accredited (NCACS) and prides itself on innovative technology combined with long-standing tradition.
The School of Health Sciences at the University of South Dakota offers a cheap online Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health which provides a pathway for either a public health career or graduate studies in public health. This affordable online program is interdisciplinary in nature and provides foundational knowledge of:
- Public health principles
- Global health issues
Faculty are committed to training scholars, practitioners, and leaders in health and human services, and students in the Health Sciences program benefit from the ability to explore the many options in the health and human service professions. In addition to the high-quality instruction and the flexibility of the online format, the school offers a cheap online tuition rate that is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.
College Choice Score: 73.23
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $325.00
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walden University is a regionally accredited (HLC), for-profit university which has been providing higher education for working students since 1970. Today the school enrolls over 51,000 students in all 50 states and over 114 countries.
Walden University offers an affordable online BS in Public Health which prepares adult learners to apply public health skills and competencies across many public health-related settings. Faculty help students translate their course content into practice through a variety of instructional methods. The program covers a wide range of public health topics – from environmental health to disease prevention – and offers a choice of nine concentrations, including:
- Child Development
- Disaster and Emergency Management
- Health and Cultural Diversity
- Health Management
- Health Psychology and Behavior
Students generally complete the program within 48 months (97%) and are ready for entry-level public health positions or continuation into advanced public health degree programs. In addition to their cheap online tuition, the school provides discounts to members of the military and their families.
Trident University International
College Choice Score: 71.13
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $375.00
One of the only universities on our list without a brick-and-mortar campus, Trident University is the first fully online university to be regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Though operating on a for-profit model, the college has maintained affordable tuition costs, making their programs accessible to a variety of learners.
Trident University offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health which provides the broad-based foundation necessary for entry into many public health occupations. Graduates of the Trident Public Health program will be ready to work in a variety of health-related settings. The program provides several public health concentrations, including:
- Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety
- Health Care Administration
- Health Education
- Emergency and Disaster Management
All Trident programs use active, case-based learning as opposed to standard test methods. Faculty work to ensure the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that students are ready to apply their knowledge upon graduation. In addition, the University has formed partnerships with various branches of the military and offers discounts for military personnel and their spouses.
College Choice Score: 70.92
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $510.00
Founded in 1971, Excelsior College is a regionally accredited (MSCHE), private, non-profit, distance learning institution located in Albany, New York. The school’s commitment to removing obstacles to higher education has made online learning a natural fit for their programs, including their pioneering School of Health Sciences.
Excelsior College’s School of Health Sciences offers an affordable Bachelor of Science in Public Health that promises to equip students with the skills they need to excel and advance in today’s health-care industry. Excelsior developed this program by working closely with public health experts to ensure that all academic materials are both timely and relevant. The degree focuses on the three pillars of Public Health:
- Preventing the spread of disease
- Protecting the health of populations
- Promoting population health through policies, programs, and interventions.
Excelsior’s affordable online Bachelor’s in Public Health emphasizes the practical skills and knowledge that healthcare employers are looking for. Students benefit from their flexible model and can receive academic credit for health care professional licenses and certifications, leaving them with fewer Excelsior elective courses to complete your public health degree.
South University Online
College Choice Score: 69.58
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $397.00
Based in Savannah, Georgia, South University is a system of for-profit schools which focuses on providing degrees for Business and Health Professions. The school has 15 campuses across several states, with their first online bachelor’s degrees becoming available in 2004.
South University offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree program which provides students with the knowledge and practical skills to be a public health professional. Whether students plan to work at the local, national, or international level, they will have a strong foundation in core areas of public health. This program’s affordable, broad- based curriculum covers a range of topics including:
- Health communication
- Health disparities
- Legal and ethical issues
- Management of public health systems
- Policy and research
Faculty prepare students to provide essential services of public health in health agencies at the government and community-based level or to pursue graduate study in public health.
Potential students should be aware that, though South University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, they have been on warning since December 2015 due to concerns regarding their financial health.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 69.24
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $575.00
With a reputation as one of the top public schools in the nation, the University of South Florida prides itself on being a young and agile institution that inspires innovation and creativity in its students. The school is based in Tampa, Florida, is regionally accredited (SACS), and has a College of Public Health that is recognized as being one of the best in the US.
Accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the College of Public Health at USF offers an online Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) with a concentration in Public Health which develops a broad understanding of the field of Public Health. All students begin with core courses in Public Health Policies, Epidemiology, and a History of Human Diseases, then choose from 18 elective courses which include:
- Women’s Health: A Public Health Perspective
- Health, Behavior and Society
- Occupational Health and Safety
- Foundations of Public Health Immunology
Course material ranges from the local to the international sphere, and from historical to current public health issues. Students who complete this online Bachelor’s degree will be prepared to either start a career in a wide variety of Public Health areas or move onto graduate work.
University of West Florida
College Choice Score: 60.29
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $479
Located in Pensacola, Florida, the University of West Florida is a regionally accredited (SACS) public university which prides itself on cultivating a forward-thinking, innovative student culture. The school was established in 1962, and today the school’s online Bachelor’s Programs have ranked among the best in the nation (US News and World Report).
The Department of Health Sciences and Administration at the University of West Florida offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree with a specialization in Public Health. This online degree is geared towards undergraduate students who wish to pursue their studies in health, healthcare, and public health. The program prepares students to work in disease surveillance, community engagement, maternal and child health, and environmental health and includes courses in:
- Diseases in Human Population
- Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
- Medical Disaster Management
- Public Health Planning and Analysis
Course content combines theoretical and practical knowledge to ensure that students are career-ready on graduation. The Department of Health Sciences also offers an affordable Certificate in Public Health which provides a broad-based foundation in occupational safety and health to meet the needs of public health practitioners who have responsibility for worker safety and health.
Kent State University
College Choice Score: 57.36
Tuition Per Credit Hour: $818.00
Kent State University is a regionally accredited (HLC), public research university located in Kent, Ohio. The university frequently ranks among the top public schools in the nation and boasts a diverse and highly trained faculty. Kent State is a leader in online learning and has been offering online programs for over fifteen years.
Kent State University College of Public Health is one of the top public health schools in the nation, with accreditation from the Council on Education in Public Health. It is one of only two colleges of public health in Ohio and the first to offer a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. This online Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree offers a choice of concentrations in:
- Allied Health
- Health Promotion and Education
- Health Services Administration
Courses in the Public Health degree program integrate theory and practice to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills to address the health challenges of the 21st century. Students enrolled in Kent State’s Online programs benefit from a wide range of student supports, including Career Services, which helps students in their search for internships and co-ops.